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Handicapped Children vs. Public Broadcasting Smackdown

Via MoveOn.org, this story in The Boston Globe:

House Republicans yesterday revived their efforts to slash funding for public broadcasting, as a key committee approved a $115 million reduction in the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that could force the elimination of some popular PBS and NPR programs.

On a party-line vote, the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health and education funding approved the cut to the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes money to the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio. It would reduce the corporation's budget by 23 percent next year, to $380 million, in a cut that Republicans said was necessary to rein in government spending.

I disagree with this move, but that's fine. People of reason can disagree about such things. But later in the story comes a quote that is mind-boggling:

"We've got to keep our priorities straight," said Representative Ralph Regula, an Ohio Republican who is chairman of the appropriations panel that approved the cut. "You're going to choose between giving a little more money to handicapped children versus providing appropriations for public broadcasting."
Is that the choice? Money for handicapped children or money for public broadcasting? Clearly Congress has been doing an incredible job, trimming so much fat out of the budget that we're down to choosing between handicapped children and public broadcasting.

Of course, Congress wasn't always so frugal as it must be now. For example, in 2005, they were a bit more spendthrift:

In 2005, earmarked funding is going to projects as diverse as entirely stainless steel bathrooms ($4 million), airbags for aircraft ($2 million) and leak proof transmission drip pans ($3 million). Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) requested $4.3 million for a program that the Pentagon did not request funds for: the SmarTruck, a souped-up Ford F-350 for use in combat. The Defense budget also includes $3.75 million for alcoholism research at the Gallo center in San Francisco. Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) earmarked $110 million for two F-15's that the Pentagon didn't request. There is a $1 million earmark for the eradication of brown tree snakes in Guam (Senator Inouye, from Hawaii, is concerned they will spread), and $1.9 million for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebration. Other nuggets include $1.5 million for a virtual reality spray paint simulator system in Pine City, Minnesota; $4.3 million for vocational education of Alaskan miners; and $1 million for a biathlon trail upgrade at Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Naturally, those days are over. For Representative Regula to have made it out to be a choice between handicapped children and public broadcasting, obviously Congress wouldn't be funding such luxuries as a virtual reality spray paint simulator, a commemorative celebration, or fighter jets that the Pentagon didn't request. Right?


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